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Wireless LAN predictions: Cheaper access points, more robust and reliable networks

Paul DeBeasi

Paul DeBeasi, senior analyst at Burton Group, covers the wireless networking world. After a year that saw 802.11n finally ratified, wireless LAN isn't set for any revolutionary changes in 2010. But there will be plenty of action.

802.11n prices will drop: "We saw a beginning to that in 2009 with Aruba, Aerohive and Meraki all having a little more pricing competition," DeBeasi said. "We're going to continue to see that. And the silicon vendors, their next-generation silicon will be lower power, lower cost."

Read more 2010 predictions from networking analysts

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WLAN vendors strive to make wireless more robust, reliable: Every vendor will continue to introduce techniques aimed at making wireless networks more reliable and robust, DeBeasi said. "The throughput [of 802.11n] is better, but can [enterprises] depend on it? There are lots of techniques that vendors are adding." Current techniques from vendors include beamforming, airtime fairness and bandwidth steering. "We're going to see improvements in beamforming [and other techniques] in 2010," he said.

Expect 1x1 MIMO, 4x4 MIMO and everything between: DeBeasi said most of the 802.11n products on the market so far have utilized 3x3 or 2x3 MIMO (multiple input, multiple output). He expects vendors to offer a full range of receiver and transmitter arrays in 2010. "I think we'll see some 1x1 products, lower-power and lower-cost products. The throughput will be lower, too, of course. I think the iPhone might come out with a 1x1 802.11n capability this year. And at the high end, we'll probably begin to see, near the end of the year, 4x4 MIMO in enterprise access points to offer better throughput."

Next: Market analyst predicts data center networking in 2010 will move to two-tier networking.

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